You can’t read the label from inside the Jar – Part 2

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How does coaching work in ‘real life’ for lawyers?

If you read my last blog you’ll know that coaching has seen a rapid growth as a business tool. Indeed the number of clients I am coaching has doubled in the last year.

Yet, still there is some confusion amongst lawyers as to when should they seek coaching. In this post, I want to discus two primary areas where coaching enables lawyers to excel:

  1. Leaders, Managers and Partners (established or new)

Here are some of the reasons lawyers in this category sought out coaching support:

  • Partners (and managers) found that there was lot of difference between classroom learning and dealing effectively with real life leadership, management and business tasks. 1-1 coaching puts the focus directly on those real life challenges.
  • The evolving nature of the business and legal world means the Partner is continually moving into unchartered territory in respect of their firm/department. For example, how much time do they devote to exploring the leading edge of technology? And is it still worthwhile use of time if the newest technology is not related to their USP? Having a sounding board offers a safe place to reflect and decide on these difficult decisions.
  • They found that the continual changing demands is daunting and impacts their self-confidence. Who do you turn to for structure when there is so much uncertainty and no guarantee of success – a coaching guru with industry expertise?
  • For some, dealing with uncertainty led to a micro management approach –and often followed by the unfortunate title of ‘control freak’. So a change in mind-set was required to enable them and others to move forward successfully. Coaching provides that change in perspective required for shifting to a new mind-set.
  • Sometimes they found it very difficult to admit they needed help. So when the pressure intensifies they returned to what they know best – their legal expertise and billing targets!  Without clear leadership, the firm’s continued success is threatened. A coach can be a source of help, assisting a leader to stay on track with both their individual and business objectives.
  • Most of us are adverse to uncertainty, which in turn increases stress levels. With no outlet, that stress can be expressed inappropriately in their team. Stress grows like a canker from partner to colleagues and team members. Having the support of an external coach give the opportunity to work through those stresses in a healthy way, without impacting on those around you.

Here I am reminded of the quote from Geoff Wild Director of Law & Governance. Even though it was shared in The Lawyer in 2007 the comment is still valid.

“Customers can identify with 92% accuracy which employees are poor performers. For every 1% of employees who are dissatisfied, 5 % of customers are unhappy. Dissatisfied employees are 20% less productive than satisfied employees.

  1. Setting out for the first time on your own whether building your own firm or as a Consultant Solicitor/Agile Partner

Having worked with clients in this category, having a coach has proved invaluable to their successes. Here are some reasons why they would seek out coaching:

  • It quickly became very clear that just because they want to take their legal expertise to the market place in their own way they soon discovered unchartered territory with no road map. This is compounded by them ‘not knowing what they don’t know’ and thinking that they have to figure it out alone. You don’t! Coaching can support you in developing that unique roadmap aligned with your personal and business objectives.
  • It can be overwhelming to set up on your own either, under the umbrella of an organisation or your own firm. There is so much to do and most of it is non-fee paying, particularly at the start. Working with a coach can clarify priorities and ensure that you are focussed on what will bring the earliest success.
  • A further challenge is the gap between serving the client (and getting paid, depending on the nature of the legal work you do). When you are busy with client work where do you find the time or space for business development, let alone find out how to do it effectively. A coach can help you pinpoint what will make the difference and create a strategy to ensure it is implemented successfully.

As you may have gathered, I am an advocate of coaching. I believe it is the difference that makes the difference in business effectiveness. Coaching is completely confidential and provides an important and supportive space as you explore and expand your awareness and develop business strategies to become even more successful.

As a qualified coach and Top 100 lawyer with a strong background in leadership and management, I am able to offer specialised coaching. So if you want me to be a catalyst in your drive to be a great leader/manager or business owner and ensure the future success of you and your firm in this uncertain world – call me on 07921540039 for a coffee meeting to discuss your needs.

Here’s what some of my clients have been saying:

I cannot recommend Ann highly enough. I recently chose to become self-employed after years as an employee/partner. It was massively exciting but also scary and I needed some structure and ideas. To be blunt, I didn’t have a clue what to do. Simon Robinson Gunnercooke  

Ann is an absolute pleasure to work with, she is quick to spot the issues in need of attention and offer solutions. I feel that Ann is my greatest supporter, delighted when things are going well, but not afraid to be frank when things need improving. I cannot recommend her highly enough. Lindsay Dixon Consultant Solicitor

It has been invaluable to talk to someone who was independent, with Ann’s level of experience and seniority, in a constructive and thought provoking manner and I could not have done it without her. Thank you Ann. Alice Poole Senior Solicitor (now on maternity leave)

‘Ann’s relaxed manner and warm approach belies a razor-sharp business brain. She manages to guide, mentor, coach and steer all at once without ever making it feel like hard work.’  Keeley Chesworth Carillion